CBS channels to launch in UK

By Chris Curtis

CBS Reality, CBS Action and CBS Drama channels will launch in the UK on 16 November via the US network giant’s recent deal with Chellomedia.

The joint venture will signal the first time CBS-branded channels have operated outside of the US and comprises six EPG slots: Zone Reality and +1 will become CBS Reality and +1; Zone Romantica will become CBS Drama; and Zone Thriller will become CBS Action. The Zone Horror channel and its +1 will remain as it is for now.

Programming, sourced from CBS’s 70,000-hour library, includes Judge Judy and Dr Phil on CBS Reality, Dynasty on CBS Drama, air military thriller Jag and the remastered original Star Trek series on CBS Action.

CBS Studios International president Armando Nunez said it was already considering other channel launches around the world, but that the immediate focus was on getting the UK project right. He indicated that further genre channels could replace the +1 slots in the future.

“Chello has a bouquet of channels that are doing well but have never really had access to higher-tier content. We have the content, but are not really in the international channels business. It’s a natural fit.”

Chellomedia chief executive Shane O’Neill said the company had been attracted by a long-term content commitment, rather than “heading to Mip each year” to source shows.

“We felt a little strategically vulnerable in the UK and felt having clear access to a content pipeline or partner was even more important in a fragmented environment.”

Executive VP of international channels Reed Manville will lead the UK initiative for CBS and said he expected the core demographic to be 35-year-olds and over, who have affection for the library shows.

Manville said: “There’s latent awareness of the CBS brand, and that it stands for quality US entertainment, but people associate it with things such as DVDs, motion pictures and news. Our job is to build that out.”

Sister company CBS Outdoor will launch a billboard campaign to kickstart the consumer push.

Chello will also acquire some third-party content for the channels, and CBS will continue to licence contemporary shows to other UK broadcasters.